Some of you may recall the “The Little Engine That Could,” a children's story by Watty Piper. Basically, it is used to teach optimism, and Van Wyck, in many ways, appears to be a metaphor for optimism.
Van Wyck is a little community that shows that it can. It says so in many ways. I heard about it when we moved to Indian Land. I loved the name and the first time we went to find the place, we thought we were lost and missed it altogether. Then I vaguely remembered some mention of a car show.
We began learning about the ways of this rural community at Christmas time when residents gathered for the annual Lighting of the Way.
If you get a chance to go to Van Wyck's Lighting of the Way, you'll know you are not lost. You'll find far more than just a small, rural community. You will know that your heart has come home.
Not long ago, we went to the Van Wyck Community Development Club's fish fry fundraiser. “The proceeds go to the upkeep of the community center and grounds,” organizer Linda Vaughan told me.
If you've ever gone to Van Wyck, you know a lot of things happen at the community center, and that day, aside from feeding the entire community, the Grass Band entertained as well.
Van Wyck is a special place, and, since so many events take place at the center, I investigated its early history.
The Van Wyck Community Development Club was organized in November 1954 by a group of concerned citizens who saw the need for a community center. The club purchased the old Van Wyck school building on Sept. 6, 1957. They tore it down and replaced it with the present building, which was completed in 1963.
According to Vaughan and fellow club member Betty Broome, the center is in constant use by the residents, who participate in a variety of activities. The surrounding grounds offer a tennis court, a quarter-mile walking track, a gem mine, and the former Seaboard Coastline Railroad Wait Station.
We have been to several annual events the club sponsors, including the Easter Egg Hunt, Spring Fling and Yard Sale, Halloween party, Lighting of the Way, and the community festival, Celebrate Van Wyck.
People make a community, and the people of Van Wyck make this community special. We have been privileged to attend many wonderful events here.
Oh, that car show I mentioned earlier? It just happened to raise enough money to be able to give scholarship money to those of its graduating seniors who won outstanding citizen awards.
Members of this community are family to each other and to those who get to know them. They support each other in many ways. If one organization is having a barbecue, or a fish fry, or whatever, everyone comes.
I think of Van Wyck as the little town that could.